Over the past 23 high school football seasons, the Central District has produced 17 state champions and numerous college and professional players.
With the 2013 season set to kick off eight weeks from now, ThisWeekSPORTS.com has decided to whet the appetites of area football-crazed fans by focusing on the sport in our fifth-annual summer series.
Over the next five weeks, we will release the "All-Time ThisWeek Football Team" that spans from 1990 -- when the ThisWeek Community News era began -- through last season.
We've picked one quarterback, three running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, five offensive linemen, four defensive linemen, four linebackers, four defensive backs, one place-kicker, one punter and one return specialist for our first team. We also have picked second and third teams.
We will announce the third team next week and the second team the following week before releasing the first team. We then will rank the top 10 coaches of the past 23 seasons, minus our No. 1 pick, before concluding the series with the top offensive player, top defensive player and top coach of the ThisWeek era.
Research for this series began months ago and included input from various coaches throughout central Ohio and colleagues such as long-time sportswriter Steve Blackledge from The Columbus Dispatch, in addition to the experienced staff at ThisWeek.
The "All-Time ThisWeek Football Team" continues our summer tradition of an in-depth series, following "20 Years of Upsets" in 2009, "Most Dominant Teams" in 2010, "Top Individual Performances" in 2011 and "Most Dramatic State Tournament Events" last year.
We begin this series with an honorable mention list of players in alphabetical order by position, with each player's final high school season in parentheses:
Steve Baird (Hilliard Davidson, 1993), Cory Becher (Granville, 2008), Corry Benson (Marion-Franklin, 2012), Jeremy Ebert (Hilliard Darby, 2007), Maurice Hale (Beechcroft, 2012), Scott McMullen (Granville, 1998), Rocco Pentello (Westerville South, 2006), Rocky Pentello (Westerville South, 2000), Curtese Poole (Mifflin, 1995), Verlon Reed (Marion-Franklin, 2009), Kyle Slager (Upper Arlington, 1998), Eric Stewart (Columbus West, 2009), Cole Stoudt (Dublin Coffman, 2011), Zack Stoudt (Coffman, 2007), Kasey Wendal (Westland, 2006).
Among the standouts in this list are four players who were named ThisWeek Super 25 captains as seniors in Baird, Ebert, Slager and Wendal and a three-time Super 25 selection in Rocco Pentello. Slager went on to be a three-year starter for Brown University and Ebert started at wide receiver for Northwestern before being drafted by the New England Patriots.
Rocky Pentello had two solid seasons for Ready before having a standout senior season for Westerville South.
"Rocky still holds five state records at quarterback, but Rocco also played safety and started his last two years at both positions," said South coach Rocky Pentello, who is Rocky's cousin and Rocco's father. "Rocky is in Italy playing right now and is 30 years old but still looks like he's 20."
Le'Veon Bell (Groveport, 2009), Bo Delande (Davidson, 2006), Shane Edstrom (Reynoldsburg, 1995), Christen Haywood (Davidson, 2005), Marcus Hendren (Johnstown, 2006), Charles "June" Henley (Brookhaven, 1992), Steve Howard (Gahanna Lincoln, 2002), Godwin Igwebuike (Pickerington North, 2012), Storm Klein (Licking Valley, 2008), Lerron Moore (Watterson, 2001), Isaiah Pead (Eastmoor Academy, 2007), Erick Phillips (Davidson, 2001), Gary Russell (Walnut Ridge, 2003), Louis Willard (Grove City, 1991), Donovan Wilson (Dublin Jerome, 2012).
Three of these players -- Henley, Pead and Russell -- have played in the NFL, and Bell was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in April.
Also on this list is a pair of Davidson players who were Super 25 captains as seniors in Haywood and Phillips, and Delande helped lead Davidson to the Division I state title in 2006.
Robbie Anzuini (Darby, 2007), Jalen Bell (Westerville South, 2012), B.J. Cunningham (Westerville South, 2006), Marcus Davis (Coffman, 2011), Mike Furrey (Hilliard, 1994), Ben Graves (Grandview, 2005), Jake Green (Grove City, 2010), Matt Hardy (Newark, 2002), Ryan Jones (Newark Catholic, 1997), Nick Moore (Westerville South, 2003), Chinedum Ndukwe (Coffman, 2002), Mark Philmore (Reynoldsburg, 2001), Chris Strayer (Granville, 1996), Jack Tomlinson (Westerville South, 2009), Cameron Wilson (Jerome, 2011).
The most recognizable name might be Furrey, who played in the NFL.
Coffman and Westerville South seemingly have shined year after year at this position, as well as at quarterback.
Jason Hughes (Upper Arlington, 1993), John Hughes (Gahanna, 2006), Jacob Matuska (Hartley, 2012), Austin Traylor (Walnut Ridge, 2010), Nick Vannett (Westerville Central, 2010).
Vannett seems to be on his way to increased playing time for Ohio State, and Matuska and Traylor are playing at Notre Dame and Wisconsin, respectively.
John Hughes is preparing for his second season as a defensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns.
Chuck Andrick (Brookhaven, 1992), Adam Asbeck (DeSales, 1990), Morgan Cotter (Marysville, 1994), Zak Crum (Westerville South, 2006), Joe Dixon (Brookhaven, 1996), Trey Fowlkes (Columbus East, 2006), Charles Grandjean (Walnut Ridge, 2002), Leon Humphries (Eastmoor, 1997), Joe Lundstrom (Westerville North, 1995), Charlie Norden (Dublin Scioto, 2002), Aaron Rittgers (Pickerington Central, 2007), Jeremy Sherman (Reynoldsburg, 1996), Josh Suchecki (Davidson, 2008), Lee Tilley (Franklin Heights, 2005), Paul Wagner (Westerville South, 2003).
The City League has produced numerous talented players in the trenches over the years, including four who weighed more than 300 pounds during their playing days in Dixon, Fowlkes, Grandjean and Humphries.
Tyler Backstrom (Davidson, 2008), Alex Barrow (Coffman, 2003), Emmanuel Beal (Reynoldsburg, 2012), Taco Charlton (Pickerington Central, 2012), Sam Coles (Davidson, 2011), Charles Gilstrap (DeSales, 1999), Terrell Jackson (Marion-Franklin, 2011), Travis Jackson (DeSales, 2009), Kris Luchsinger (Watterson, 2005), Miles McCollum (Coffman, 2012), Joe O'Shaughnessy (Watterson, 1995), Jay Richardson (Scioto, 2001), Damon Smith (Walnut Ridge, 1992), Granyl Smith (Gahanna, 2012), Matt Williamson (DeSales, 2005).
Central Ohio has produced a plethora of talent in this area in recent years, with players such as Beal, Charlton, Coles, Terrell Jackson, McCollum and Granyl Smith all shining in the past season or two.
Richardson will be entering his sixth season in the NFL this fall. He currently is with the New Orleans Saints.
George Anderson (Mifflin, 2003), Andy Balling (Grove City, 1996), Chuck Berger (Davidson, 1997), Adam Brankamp (Thomas Worthington, 1999), Brett Buehler (Coffman, 2009), Lewis Carter (Mifflin, 1997), Joe Cooper (Independence, 1996), Matt Ferguson (Pickerington North, 2009), Adam Kadela (Coffman, 2002), Josh Kusan (DeSales, 2008), Joshua Perry (Olentangy, 2011), Matt Redfield (Watterson, 2010), Stuart Reid (Pickerington, 2002), Ridge Riebold (Olentangy Liberty, 2006), Will Studlien (Big Walnut, 2008).
Ferguson and Kusan both were a Super 25 captain in their senior seasons based on their performances at running back and linebacker.
Also as seniors, Anderson led Mifflin to its last playoff berth and Brankamp led Thomas Worthington to its last winning season.
Charles Alston (Whitehall, 1993), Todd Boulware (Worthington Kilbourne, 2001), Tim Bowers (Westerville South, 1995), Caleb Day (Darby, 2012), Percy King (Marion-Franklin, 1994), Nana Kyeremeh (Thomas Worthington, 2011), Phil Larmon (Thomas Worthington, 1998), Keith Moore (Grove City, 2008), Matt Nelson (Grove City, 1999), Brian Peters (Pickerington Central, 2006), Stevie Simpkins (Columbus East, 1999), Robbie Stover (Big Walnut, 1999), DeVante Strickland (Marion-Franklin, 2009), Ron Tanner (Eastmoor, 2010), Ethan Wetzel (Big Walnut, 2007).
Tanner is a sophomore looking to get playing time this fall for Ohio State. Strickland (Kent State), Moore (Ohio University), Day (Illinois) and Kyeremeh (West Virginia) also are playing for a Football Bowl Subdivision team.
Grant Coffman (Coffman, 2012), Adam Graessle (Coffman, 2001), Ron Keffer (Ready, 1996), Richie McNally (DeSales, 2000), Mike Morgan (Ready, 2008), Craig Nye (Kilbourne, 1993), Brent Peterson (DeSales, 1997), Mike Pulsfort (Watterson, 1994), Brenden Rauh (Dublin Scioto, 1996), Matt Weade (Big Walnut, 2003).
The CCL has had numerous standout kickers over the years, with Keffer, McNally, Morgan and Peterson among that group.
Jason Cox (Olentangy, 2001), Frank Epitropoulos (Upper Arlington, 2011), Kevin Gerber (Westerville North, 2002), Brandon Hannum (Westerville North, 1999), Andrew Horstman (Olentangy, 2012), Jared Karrasch (Reynoldsburg, 2004), Aaron Kingcade (Kilbourne, 2008), Matt Miller (Westerville North, 2000), Darrell Penyak (Grove City, 1997), Nick Spadafore (Gahanna, 2006).
Westerville North, which will enter the coming season on a 45-game losing streak, has had its share of good punters over the years.
Matt Angle (Whitehall, 2003), Trumaine Banks (Eastmoor, 2001), Thomas Douglas (Walnut Ridge, 2007), Harold Ford (Independence, 1994), Antoine Harris (Ready, 1999), Nick Hennessy (Westland, 2004), Tajh Jones (Africentric, 2009), Tyrell Massey (Marion-Franklin, 2008), Justin Mathews (Marion-Franklin, 1999), Mitch Robertson (New Albany, 2005).
Harris was a standout at numerous positions during his prep career and went on to play three seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.